The organisers of the Hankook Scottish Rally Championship have bucked the economic downturn by attracting a record entry for the opening round, the Inverness-based Snowman Rally, on Saturday (Feb 14).
More than 130 cars — with crews travelling from England, Ireland and Wales — will tackle the 44-mile event which includes many of the most famous forest stages on the Black Isle and the Highlands.
The top class entry is led by 2008 champion and Inverness driver Jimmy Girvan who starts the season in his Subaru Impreza. The veteran will again face stiff competition from Dumfries 21-year-old David Bogie.
The youngster, who narrowly missed out on the title last year losing the championship only in the final round, has ditched his Toyota Corolla World Rally Car and will tackle the championship in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
Amongst the other main contenders for the championship, Gretna’s Mike Faulkner (Mitsubishi Evo VI), Euan Thorburn (Subaru Impreza) from Duns, and Aberdeen’s Dave Weston jnr (Subaru Impreza) are all likely to battle for podium places.
Such is the significance of the Scottish Championship, which is acknowledged as being the most competitive rally series in the UK, that it has unveiled a new sponsor for 2009.
Hankook, the seventh-largest tyre manufacturer in the world, is backing the event this year with a view to extending the sponsorship further. As part of the package, the winner of the Junior programme in the championship will receive a fully-funded outing in an international rally.
“Obviously having new sponsor Hankook on board has given everybody a lift,” SRC chairman Campbell Roy said. “They’ve been very enthusiastic and keen supporters of the championship.
“It’s very reassuring to see such a splendid entry for the Snowman, especially taking
into account the current economic climate. Our aim now would be to maintain that level across the eight rounds.
“What I feel is exciting about this year is there is anyone of half a dozen, perhaps even 10, drivers who have a realistic claim to winning the championship.
“In previous years those with the financial means could field superior World Rally Cars, whereas this year all the top runners will be in similar GpN or GpA-type machinery which will bring it down to driving ability. We’re delighted with that.”